Could All These Earthquakes Mean A Big One is Coming in Texas?
It has happened again. One month after the earthquake last month just northwest of Pecos, another one hit. This one was another 5.4 magnitude quake striking at 5:35 pm on December 16th with a 3.3 magnitude aftershock about three minutes later.
Earthquakes in Texas are generally minor events. On Wednesday, one of the largest earthquakes in Texas history struck 35 miles northwest of Pecos. It was centered near the New Mexico border and measured 5.4.
The epicenter of these quakes was not far from the area where a 5.0 earthquake hit in March 2020.
This earthquake was close to the strongest ever reported in Texas, a 6.0 magnitude quake near Marfa in Valentine, Texas back in 1931.
Both earthquakes were felt all over West Texas.
The November quake even caused enough damage to the Robert B. Green building in downtown San Antonio that the building has now been deemed unsafe. Several other buildings on the San Antonio College campus were evacuated and engineers are inspecting them in what campus officials are saying is "out of an abundance of caution."
There were many posts on social media of people who could feel the earthquake in San Angelo. Fortunately, there was no damage here.
Since 2017, that area of Texas has generally had one minor earthquake a day. This is the most intense one yet. So, what is causing this increased seismic activity? Geologists say it is likely the result of increased oil and gas activity across West Texas.
Pecos and Midland both have numerous wastewater injection wells, plus there are a lot of dormant faults in the area. The combination is known to cause earthquakes.
So, since oil and gas industry activity is generally accepted to be the cause of the increased seismic activity in Texas, like the Pecos quake this week, does this mean it is inevitable that the "Big One" is coming?
There are some who claim the answer is "yes"
Most recognized experts say, despite those who claim otherwise, it is unlikely. Yet, the research is inconclusive. No one can say the hazard of a big earthquake event is totally impossible.
In addition, It is possible that in northeastern Texas a very large earthquake of magnitude 7 or above that occurs in nearby Oklahoma or along the New Madrid faultline of Missouri-Tennessee could cause massive damage.
The next time you feel a vibration or shaking, you may be feeling an earthquake. Did you feel the earthquake earlier this week?